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First custom guitar, need advice on unusual wiring


RestlichGeist
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Hello everyone, sorry to make my first post on the forum a "help me" thread, but here goes.

I'm building my first custom guitar and the wiring is going to be somewhat unusual, so I need some input from people who actually understand guitar wiring. I've done guitar wirings before and I understand the basics, but I can't figure out how this should be wired, or even if it's possible. Here's what I have in mind:

Neck: SD Custom P-90, 500k volume, 250k no-load tone
Middle: BKP Irish Tour, 500k volume, 250k no-load tone
Bridge: DiMarzio X2N, 500k volume, series/parallel/coil split mini switch, phase reversal mini switch

I want to be able to have any combination of the pickups available, so right now I'm thinking of using a normal Oak Grigsby Fender-type 5-position switch (not the 24-lug super switch) with a separate on/off switch for the P-90, so the positions would be like this:

1. Neck (can also be used to mute the guitar if the P-90 switch is off)
2. Middle (+ Neck in parallel if the P-90 switch is on)
3. Middle + Bridge, in parallel (+ Neck in parallel if the P-90 switch is on)
4. (Any ideas? I can also use a 4-position switch and just drop this position entirely)
5. Bridge (+ Neck if the P-90 switch is on)

Would this work? Is there a better way to be able to have all the possible pickup combinations available? I could add one more mini switch or one more pot, any more and it's going to get a bit too crowded inside the electronics cavity. If someone wants to draw up a diagram, go ahead, but I can order a custom digram so I mainly just want to know if this is possible BEFORE I order the diagram.

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Welcome onboard! PG is here specifically as an educational resource, so "help me" threads are our bread and butter. :-)

Unfortunately I don't like 5-way switches much so I can't think of the complete solution off the top of my head or produce a diagram to work from. If I'm right in thinking, all three pickups go out to their own separate volume pots which are then switched around by the slider. The P-90 is purely an opt-in pickup for any of the switch positions so this wouldn't need connecting to the switch positioning, only to the summed output of the switch in parallel like the others, and cut by it's own switch.

I guess that it might be possible to treat position 4 as your coil cut for the X2N if you wire it so that position 4 is middle plus one X2N coil and position 5 is both X2N coils. That would solve the four-way switch issue and reduce the switch clutter that this pickup seems to require. No idea whether the switch you are wanting to use can do this.

Sort of reminds me of the Ibanez EGEN wiring. Google Image Search shows a few results for that one.

It might be simpler than I am thinking. As I said, not my usual area!

As to whether it is possible? Most things are, however the immediate issue are redundant positions and perhaps sounds that you will never use. Those get annoying after the fact. Have you tried the pickups manually wired into each of these different combinations? I would recommend it. You might find that you can simplify an overly complex switching and wiring arrangement by whittling it down to what you will actually get use from.

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I think that you need to know what you want in pos 4. I guess that it could be a coil tap of the bridge pickup of some sort, but you already have a coil tap.

To include the neck pickup in different positions, you need to wire a separate switch that will be connected in parrallel with the 5 pos switch, on top of wiring the pickup to the neck position of the switch.

You really need to draw it out. Its not so complex.

I would take a different approach. why not simply have 3 mini toggles combined with push pull for the neck and bridge?

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With switching requirements like you've listed I'd also suggest looking into per-pickup mini toggles over the toggles+5-way switch combination.

If you consider that some of the more common switching operations you'll likely perform (eg, switching from bridge to neck, or neck to middle+bridge) will require you to operate two switches one after the other, you can achieve the same result using discrete mini toggles which simplifies design and wiring considerably. Prostheta's suggestion regarding weeding out the switching combos that you don't like or will never use will relax your requirements somewhat and make construction easier.

If you're still keen on exploring your original idea, it is possible with a double-pole 5-way switch, and your required mini toggle switches with functions detailed at this page. Bridge pickup series/parallel/cut switch needs to be a (sometimes hard to find) double-pole on/on/on mini toggle. Bridge pickup phase reversal switch needs to be a double-pole on/on mini toggle. The neck pickup on/off function can be accomplished using a single-pole on-on mini toggle, although with your requirement that position 1 be "neck pickup off unless mini toggle switch on" could leave the user unwittingly switching to dead silence during a performance if they're not paying enough attention to the positions of the plethora of switches.

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ok was loooking at this. its a standard five way wiring diagram. all of them are in paralel on a strat anyway. so yeah wire it normal but have the neck pos on a switch like you said. i mean you described it perfectly. you could use a four way as well but since your putting the neck through an on off switch anyway your looking at just basic fender duncan or anything else on the blade switch. the biggest problem is quite simply do you have enough room for five pots and four toggle switches. thats nine controls not counting the blade switch. but yeah its not a difficult wiring. but the real question you have to ask yourself is how likely am i to use this combo? i have a twelve way switching system on a hum sing hum on the first page of this site and can tell you that every position is useful to me. but not everyone. also it could have been done easier in some ways. i can draw up something for you gladly but the real estate of the electronics cavity is going to be quite cramped unless you give it plenty of room to breathe. as well as we need to know is it going to be all in one section like a normal control cavity? or is it going to be spaced out like a jag?

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You've all been very helpful, thanks a lot! After reading through your comments, I realised a couple of things; the wiring idea was overly complicated and had way too many switches, and the P-90 'on/off' switch would prevent fast switching from neck to bridge, which is not acceptable for me. This also applies to the idea of having an 'on/off' switch for each pickup instead of a lever switch. It seems I made the amateur mistake of trying to fit in everything I could think of without considering how practical it would be or how I'd actually switch from one sound to the other.

Since I wouldn't be using the phase reversal/coil change switch enough to justify a separate switch, I could save room by having it wired into the volume pot, which is convenient as I already have a 500k push-pull pot for it. Also, I don't need to have any two pickups on simultaneously in series, only in parallel. So, I made a quick illustration in Paint of the simplest, most practical way I could think of to achieve fast switching from neck to bridge while still getting all the combinations I want (all combinations in parallel):

Wiring.jpg


The only missing combination would be all pickups on, which I don't think I'd have much use for. There's also no dedicated position for middle only, but if the volume controls are independent, then I could just turn the neck or bridge volume all the way down in 2. or 4. position, leaving only the middle pickup on.

What do you think? Can this be done? I can't figure out the switching or whether I need a Super Switch or not, so if someone could draw a diagram, that'd be great. The guitar shape is a jazz guitar / Les Paul hybrid and all the controls will be on one side, pretty much as they are in that picture.




Edited by RestlichGeist
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Perhaps a simpler three-way switch between the middle and the bridge pickup with the neck pickup as an on/off add in would work. Is this a gigging instrument or one where instantaneous switches between tones is not too important? That can affect choice also. Gigging instruments require 2-3 tones at the most unless you are particularly deft with changes. Identifying use as opposed to ultimate flexibility makes a lot of wirings easier.

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Perhaps a simpler three-way switch between the middle and the bridge pickup with the neck pickup as an on/off add in would work. Is this a gigging instrument or one where instantaneous switches between tones is not too important?

Well, fast switching from neck only to bridge only is something I really need for songs with overdrive and distortion, so I decided against a separate 'on/off' switch for the neck P-90. Using a 3-way switch might work, though, with the second position having all pickups on. This would allow for instant switching from neck to bridge as well as any possible combination in the second position, using independent volumes to blend in as much of each pickup as needed. However, I'd also like to have instantaneous switching from neck + middle to neck + bridge because these combinations are what I use when playing with a clean sound. For this I'd need a 5-way switch.

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Electrically this should work. If you're unfamiliar with schematic diagrams maybe someone can convert my scratchings into a prettier line drawing.

The 5-way switch is the same one linked to earlier. Phase/coil select switch is a normal on/on double pole mini toggle or push/pull switch mounted on the bridge volume pot. Coil cut switch is a normal on/on single pole mini toggle. Pickup wiring colour codes and tone capacitor values need filling in.

http://i153.photobucket.com/albums/s222/ac1176/20140309_17585801_zpsa53adc22.jpg

The numbered positions on the five way switch line up with your MS Paint sketch.

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  • 1 month later...

Sorry for not replying sooner, this project has taken a bit longer than I expected and I'm just now assembling the guitar. Thanks for the schematic, I was able to figure it out and the wiring is done, I just need to solder the pickup leads.

One thing, though... I made a small mistake with my MS Paint image. The coil split was supposed to be a DPDT on-on-on switch wired for series-split-parallel, which is connected to the phase switch. I tested the wiring outside the guitar, just to see if the switches and pots are doing what they're supposed to do, and noticed that - while the series-split-parallel switch works correctly - the phase switch doesn't allow me to select the active coil in split mode. The switches are wired like this: http://cdn.seymourduncan.com/images/support/schematics/series_spl_parallel-w-phase.jpg

Can this wiring be modified so the phase switch would work as a coil selector switch, too? Curitsa, I see that the phase switch is wired somewhat differently in that picture compared to your schematic, does it make a difference?




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Can this wiring be modified so the phase switch would work as a coil selector switch, too?

Off the top of my head I don't see why you can't use the Seymour Duncan switching scheme you linked to. The note at the bottom of SDs schematic could be interpreted a little confusingly, but series/split/parallel + phase reverse should work as drawn.

Curitsa, I see that the phase switch is wired somewhat differently in that picture compared to your schematic, does it make a difference?

Should be fine. The only difference between SDs version and the one I sketched out is that the inputs and outputs on the switch are reversed. Makes no difference in practice.

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Can this wiring be modified so the phase switch would work as a coil selector switch, too?

Off the top of my head I don't see why you can't use the Seymour Duncan switching scheme you linked to. The note at the bottom of SDs schematic could be interpreted a little confusingly, but series/split/parallel + phase reverse should work as drawn.

Actually, on second thought I don't think it can work (too early in the moring for me!). Your requirement for a coil select via the phase switch on the humbucker is unusual and presents a problem. The 3-position switch in the SD diagram is a one-trick pony, and I don't think there's an easy way to select which coil gets the split when the on-on-on switch is in the middle position. My original diagram with the phase switch operating as a coil select when the split is operated should work OK, but at the expense of no parallel option.

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Actually, on second thought I don't think it can work (too early in the moring for me!). Your requirement for a coil select via the phase switch on the humbucker is unusual and presents a problem. The 3-position switch in the SD diagram is a one-trick pony, and I don't think there's an easy way to select which coil gets the split when the on-on-on switch is in the middle position. My original diagram with the phase switch operating as a coil select when the split is operated should work OK, but at the expense of no parallel option.

Ah, OK. Hmm, that's a bit disappointing. Why doesn't the coil switching work when the on-on-on switch is wired for series/split/parallel? Shouldn't the middle position be the same, electrically, as it is when you don't have the parallel option?

I have very little use for phase reversal, the main reason I installed the switch was to have the option to select the active coil, because that's how I did it on another guitar that has a series/split switch. Is there any other way to wire the push-pull switch so it would work ONLY as a coil select switch?

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The problem as I see it is that the 'split' function of the series-parallel switch is more or less just a happy accident of substituting an on-on-on switch for a standard on-on switch in that position. When you break down the way 'split' on that switch works electrically it's actually really messy. I can see a way of installing a 'coil select' switch for the split function, but it does all sorts of strange things to your pickup when in 'parallel' or 'series' mode.

Unless there's something I'm missing there's not going to be an easy way to do coil select with an on-on-on series/split/parallel switch, particularly with the requirement that it only affects the 'split' mode. Might be possible to do it with a larger 3-way blade switch or a rotary switch, something with a lot more contacts and poles. But that's even assuming you want to add yet another large switch to your guitar for that function.

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OK, I've come up with a kludge that I think works on paper, but I have to really twist my brain into knots to get there.

Essentially take the SD diagram you linked to before and reverse the connection order of the phase and S/S/P switches.

Using the SD wiring colours:

  • Black from pickup to phase switch bottom-left lug
  • Green from pickup to phase switch bottom-right lug
  • Phase switch middle-left lug to bottom-right lug of S/S/P switch and output
  • Phase switch middle-right lug to bottom-left lug of S/S/P switch and ground
  • Red and white wires from pickup to S/S/P switch as originally draw

Your pickup combinations with the phase switch off will then be:

  • Humbucker series
  • Humbucker coil 1 split
  • Humbucker parallel

And with the phase switch on:

  • Humbucker series, overall phase reversed
  • Humbucker coil 2 split with reverse phase
  • Humbucker parallel with coils reversed and overall phase reversed

Can somebody else confirm this, please? I've got a headache now! :wacko:

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